If you were given an option to choose between working a 9-5 desk job or inheriting 13 million followers on TikTok and becoming an influencer, which would you choose? Chances are, you’d choose the influencer job — at least I would.
Mikayla Nogueira (@mikaylanogueira) is one of the biggest TikTok beauty influencers, amassing over 13.6 million followers on TikTok and 2.4 million followers on Instagram. Recently, she received backlash after a now-deleted video she posted a year and a half ago resurfaced, in which she states, “I literally just finished work and it’s 5:19. Try being an influencer for a day.” Upon first seeing this clip, I was immediately taken aback by hearing such a privileged comment. Ending work at 5:19 p.m. is not something completely outrageous, especially considering the job. People are obviously allowed to complain about their jobs and be tired. However, in the context of the work of an influencer in comparison to a more “common” job, Mikayla’s comment appeared very out of touch.
After delving deeper into the video, I learned that there is more than the 20-second clip that was going viral. In the full video, she begins, “Every single day, I get up at 6 A.M. I spend about 5-6 hours filming video content that ranges from 3-4 videos, and I spend a few hours editing that video content.” She then continues by saying she is in meetings from 12-5 and states that people who claim influencing is easy are out of their minds: “It is not for everybody, in fact, it’s for a very small handful of people who can actually do this job… You do not want to have this job, I’m just saying.”
Now, I’m by no means an influencer expert, but I can think of a few (a lot) of jobs that are more strenuous than being an influencer. Despite Mikayla’s tedious outline of her day, the position of an influencer is not as structured or physically exhausting as the job of a doctor, teacher, construction worker or Starbucks barista, who often might work more than 8 hours a day. Sometimes, these additional hours might also be unpaid. Sure, a day may be full of content creation and editing, but you can take a break whenever you want for however long you want, and the next day could be spent attending a company party or flying for an all-expenses vacation paid for by a brand the influencer is working with. The non-influencer professions often don’t have the liberty of controlling their schedules, don’t experience the same luxuries and don’t receive the same amount of income as these mega-influencers.
As a university student, the influencer appeal is very intriguing. The influencer job is glamorous, and although one may not truly understand the struggles it comes with, it seems to be a dream job. The idea of posting 60-second clips about a passion of yours, getting brand deals, enjoying overall freedom and getting paid thousands of dollars would intrigue anyone that is on their seventh reading and fifth p-set assignment of the week. This is likely even appealing to the 34-year-old sitting at their 9-5 desk job. It is the idea that one can post fun, short videos about anything they want and get rewarded with more money for that one video than an average person makes in a month.
Mikayla then responded to the backlash and acknowledged her flawed choice in a video posted to her TikTok account, which currently has over 1.7 million likes. She started the video by asking someone off-camera, “Is it 5:19 yet? Well, that’s my cut-off time. I can’t be making this video if it’s 5:19.” Perhaps a distasteful start, Mikayla’s opening rephrases the same notorious comment that went viral. I understand trying to make light of an unfortunate situation, but making a repeated joke about something that people already found unpleasant might not have been appropriate. In this lengthy TikTok video, Mikayla admits she regrets making the video and claims she has grown since then. She explains it was filmed on a bad day when she was new to influencing and had just quit her retail job at Ulta Beauty. Mikayla says the job is taxing on her, but she loves it and it comes with many blessings.
This situation highlighted the dramatic disparities between an influencer job and a 9-5 job. Whether it is a difference in income or flexibility, the work of an influencer is often less strenuous and usually more enjoyable. Influencing can definitely take a toll on people’s mental health, and we shouldn’t invalidate those experiences. However, it is also imperative to not turn a blind eye to the freedom and privilege the influencer job possesses.